Skip Navigation

Environmental Quality Incentives Program

EQIP Header

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program that helps agricultural producers in a manner that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible goals. Through EQIP, farmers and ranchers receive financial and technical assistance to implement structural and management conservation practices that optimize environmental benefits on working agricultural land.  EQIP is open to all eligible agricultural producers without discrimination or bias.

Fiscal Year 2016 EQIP Deadlines

Applications submitted by January 15, 2016 will be evaluated to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2016.  Applications received after that date will be accepted and evaluated for future rounds of funding.

Get Started with NRCS - Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease? NRCS offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners. Learn how here.

What's New in EQIP

  • New opportunities for wildlife habitat improvement through EQIP in 2016 including priorities to benefit pollinator habitat and treat invasive species.
  • Advance payment opportunities now exist for veteran agricultural producers
  • Advance payments for socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource farmers, Indian tribes and veterans were raised from 30 percent to 50 percent
  • Payment limitations are set at $450,000 with no ability to waive 

Accepting Applications

EQIP applications are accepted through a continuous sign-up process. NRCS encourages customers to apply at any time and periodically announces cutoff dates when applications are ranked for funding. EQIP is open to all eligible ag producers. The following document describes how to apply for Farm Bill programs.

  1. NOTICE TO APPLICANTS: Starting a practice prior to written contract approval will result in the ineligibility of that practice for EQIP assistance unless a waiver has been approved (see 440-CPM, Part 512, Subpart E)

Notice: Starting a practice prior to written contract approval will result in the ineligibility of that practice for EQIP assistance unless a waiver has been approved.

Indiana is committed to reaching out to Historically Underserved individuals and groups. Historically Underserved applications receive higher payment rates in addition to being considered in high priority funding pools. Click on the Small & Limited and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers link for the NRCS definition of the Historically Underserved.

Eligibility

Agricultural producers and owners of non-industrial private forestland and Tribes are eligible to apply for EQIP. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and other farm or ranch lands.

Socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource farmers, Indian tribes and veterans are eligible for an increased payment rate and may receive advance payment of up to 50 percent to purchase materials and services needed to implement conservation practices included in their EQIP contract.

Applicants must:

  • Control or own eligible land
  • Comply with adjusted gross income limitation (AGI) provisions
  • Be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements.
  • Develop an NRCS EQIP plan of operations

Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply.

Fact Sheet - Establishing Eligibility for USDA Programs (PDF; 970 KB)

Participant Responsibilities

Applicants are responsible for completing and filing all application and eligibility paperwork as required. If funded, participants are required to sign a contract and agree to implement the planned conservation practices to NRCS standards and specifications as scheduled.

Socially Disadvantaged, Beginning, and Limited Resource Farmers, Military Veteran Farmers

The 2014 Farm Bill continues to address the unique circumstances and concerns of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as well as beginning and limited resource farmers and ranchers and Veteran Farmers. It provides for voluntary participation, offers incentives, and focuses on equity in accessing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and services. Enhancements include streamlined delivery of technical and financial assistance; improved programs and services; and flexibility in decision making (with most decisions made at the Tribal, State, or local level)

For definitions of socially disadvantaged, beginning farmer, limited resource farmer and military veteran farmers, please visit: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/people/outreach/slbfr

Environmental and Operational Benefits - National and State Priorities

The following national priorities, consistent with statutory resources concerns that include soil, water, wildlife, air quality, and related natural resource concerns, may be used in EQIP implementation:

  1. Reductions of nonpoint source pollution, such as nutrients, sediment, pesticides, or excess salinity in impaired watersheds consistent with total maximum daily loads (TMDL) where available; the reduction of surface and groundwater contamination; and the reduction of contamination from agricultural sources, such as animal feeding operations
  2. Conservation of ground and surface water resources
  3. Reduction of emissions, such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and ozone precursors and depleters that contribute to air quality impairment violations of National Ambient Air Quality Standards
  4. Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation from unacceptable levels on agricultural land
  5. Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation including development and improvement of wildlife habitat
  6. Energy conservation to help save fuel, improve efficiency of water use, maintain production, and protect soil and water resources by more efficiently using fertilizers and pesticides and
  7. Biological carbon storage and sequestration

In addition, Indiana has identified the following priorities:

  • Grazing management: fencing, stockwater systems, range and pasture planting
  • Nutrient management: manure storage structures, planned nutrient applications, soil testing
  • Pest management: crop and pest monitoring activities
  • Erosion control: grade control structures, diversions, water and sediment control basins
  • Wildlife habitat enhancement: stream buffers, upland wildlife habitat establishment

These and the many other measures included in EQIP can help producers accomplish a variety of operational goals, which may include:

  • Improvements to the long-term productivity and sustainability of an agricultural operation;
  • Improved condition of crops and forage for livestock;
  • Reduced costs for fuel, labor, fertilizers and pesticides;
  • Energy efficient systems and field operations; and
  • Compliance with regulatory requirements.

Indiana Application Funding Categories

EQIP applications are competitively funded based on applicable screening criteria, highest application ranking score and available funds. Applications are considered in specific funding categories that “pool” similar ag operation types and geographic areas. This means that an application for conservation practices on cropland only compete with other cropland conservation applications. Certain conservation practices may only be available through each funding category. Refer to the 2016 EQIP Practice Information page to see if the practice you are interested in is offered through a fund category.

EQIP program and landscape initiatives provide statewide funding opportunities for specific national or state program priorities such as historically underserved applicants and wildlife habitat. An application may be eligible to be considered for funding under more than one funding category and should work with the local District Conservationist to determine which fund category to be considered under. Screening tools are required to be used to determine whether an application can be ranked under certain funding pools as well as for national program and landscape initiatives.

Funding Category

Explanation and Criteria

Confined Livestock

This fund category divides Indiana into four geographic areas (NE, NW, SE, and SW). Contact your local field office to find out which geographic area your county falls under.

This category is for applications containing practices related to Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs) and manure management. A screening tool is used to prioritize applications in this funding category.

Cropland

This fund category divides Indiana into four geographic areas (NE, NW, SE, and SW). Contact your local field office to find out which geographic area your county falls under.

Applications in this category must have >50% of the offered land as cropland.

Forestland

This fund category divides Indiana into four geographic areas (NE, NW, SE, and SW). Contact your local field office to find out which geographic area your county falls under.

Applications in this category must have >50% of the offered land as forestland.

Pastureland

This fund category divides Indiana into four geographic areas (NE, NW, SE, and SW). Contact your local field office to find out which geographic area your county falls under.

Applications in this category must have >50% of the offered land as pastureland.

Specialty Crops, Orchards, Vineyards

This fund category is available statewide. Applications must include practices related to specialty crops, truck crops, orchards, vineyards and other non-commodity crops. High Tunnel Systems are eligible for funding under this category.

Historically Underserved-Beginning Farmer/Rancher

This fund category is available statewide. This fund category is for applicants meeting the definition of Beginning Farmer/Rancher (BF/R) or Veteran Farmer/Ranchers (VF/R) who also meet the BFR definition. VFR participants receive higher priority for funding under this category.

Historically Underserved-Socially Disadvantaged Farmer/Rancher

This fund category is available statewide. This fund category is for applicants meeting the definition of Socially Disadvantaged Farmer/Rancher (SDF/R) or Veteran Farmer/Ranchers (VF/R) who also meet the BFR and SD definition. VFR participants receive higher priority for funding under this category.

Historically Underserved-Limited Resource Farmer/Rancher

This fund category is available statewide. This fund category is for applicants meeting the definition of Limited Resource Farmer/Rancher (LRF/R).

Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) This fund category is only eligible for land located in the Western Lake Erie Basin. A screening tool is required to be completed to be ranked in this category.

Wildlife Habitat-General

This fund category is available statewide. Applications in this category may not include the conservation practices 314 Brush Management or 315 Herbaceous Weed Control (for invasive species treatment).

Wildlife Habitat-Pollinators

This fund category is available statewide. Applications in this category must include at least one vegetation establishment practice with a seeding mix favorable to pollinator habitat and may not include conservation practices 314 Brush Management or 315 Herbaceous Weed Control (for invasive species treatment).

Wildlife Habitat-Invasive Species

This fund category is available statewide. Applications in this category may include any practice identified in the 2016 EQIP Practice Information for the Wildlife initiative.

Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed Initiative (MRBI)

This category is only available for targeted MRBI watersheds identified for the initiative. A screening tool is required to be completed to be ranked in this category.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)

This category is only available for targeted GLRI watersheds identified for the initiative. A screening tool is required to be completed to be ranked in this category.

National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI)

This category is only available for targeted NWQI watersheds identified for the initiative. A screening tool is required to be completed to be ranked in this category.

National On-Farm Energy Initiative (NOEFI)

This fund category is available statewide. A screening tool is required to be completed to be ranked in this category. This initiative only offers assistance for 128 Conservation Activity Plans-Ag Energy Management Plans (AgEMPs) and certain energy conservation practices.

National Organic Initiative (NOI)

This fund category is available statewide. A screening tool is required to be completed to be ranked in this category. This initiative is further divided to rank certified organic operations and transitioning to organic operations separately. Producers exempt from certification are considered under the transitioning category. A self-certification sheet is required to be completed by the participant for this category.

Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Project – Oak Community Restoration This fund category is available in the following counties: Bartholomew, Brown, Clark, Crawford, Dubois, Floyd, Greene, Harrison, Jackson, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Morgan, Orange, Owen, Perry. Putnam, Washington. This project targets forest land to improve conservation and restoration of oak communities.
Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project This fund category is available statewide. The Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project is a multi-state effort focused on increasing monarch habitat on private lands through plantings of milkweed and nectaring forms as well as managing pesticide use in proximity to monarch habitat. A screening tool is used to prioritize applications in this fund category.

Ranking and Screening Information

All EQIP applications receive a ranking score which is used to prioritize applications for funding based on environmental benefit and cost efficiency.

Indiana NRCS supports the locally led conservation effort in the delivery of conservation programs. The USDA local work group (LWG) serves as the starting point for the development and coordination of USDA programs to provide an integrated approach for addressing local natural resource concerns.

NRCS develops National and State resource priorities along with priorities developed by each county LWG. The LWG priorities will comprise 25 percent of the total points in the ranking score by identifying critical resource priorities within each county. The State Conservationist must grant final approval of county LWG resource priorities. Contact your local Service Center to find out when and where the LWG meeting is held.

Screening Criteria

Ranking Criteria

Indiana EQIP Payment Rates and Eligible Practices

2016 General EQIP Practice Details (DOC; 214 KB)
Indiana EQIP Invasive Species Management Plan v1.1 (DOC; 68 KB)

Indiana EQIP Fact Sheets 

Healthy Forests - EQIP (PDF; 366 KB)
2012 USDA Organic Resource Guide (PDF; 1.8 MB)
National NRCS Organic Farming Information
National USDA Organic Agriculture Information
National Agricultural Marketing Service Organic Information
Fact Sheet - Establishing Eligibility for USDA Programs (PDF; 970 KB)

EQIP TSP Processes

TSP TA Request Spreadsheet (DOC; 36 KB)
Participant TSP Documentation (DOC; 35 KB)
TSP CAP Request (DOC; 34 KB)

EQIP Initiatives

Contact Information

To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center.

If you have questions about EQIP, please contact Adam Heichelbech.